Poudre School District gets an earful during meeting to discuss a high school in Wellington

Family issues kept Poudre School District Superintendent Sandra Smyser away from a meeting at the Leeper Center in Wellington September 25, convened to discuss the possibility of building a high school in town.

Instead school board member Carolyn Reed and executive director of operations Pete Hall came to hear out a small but forceful group describe the explosive growth of their town, the importance of a high school to nurturing a sense of community in their town and their insistence upon being heard as PSD makes plans for the future. Hall’s duties include designing and construction of new schools in the district as well as interim and long-term planning. He gathers facts and reports to the school board.

Among those present at the meeting were town administrator Larry Lorentzen, trustees Tim Singewald, Travis Harless, Matt Michel, Ashley Macdonald, mayor Jack Brinkhoff and representatives of the Chamber of Commerce — Walter Lamia, Diana Pronko and Wendell Nelson. Architect Chuck Mayhugh, local business owner Chad Zadina and a “Facebook Mom” representing a group of parents who could not attend, each had chance to speak their piece.

Singewald referred to a prepared six-page summary of Wellington’s population, household income, economy, housing, ethnicity, predicted growth and percentage of commuters to jobs outside the community. He described recent plans to revitalize downtown, develop a comprehensive parks and trails system and create an I-25 underpass in order to emphasize the growing vitality of the community. He pointed out the rapid growth rate and the fact that the largest segment of newcomers are those between the ages of 25 and 34, people likely to have young children.

After Hall explained the complexities a school district faces as it plans for the future in a fast-growing area, the townspeople lost no time in expressing their feelings about the importance of a high school, not only as a place for education but as a center of community for their town.

Trustee and father of five, Matt Michel, pointed out the fact that some families leave town when their children reach high school age because of the distance to Poudre High School, the difficulty of taking part in after school activities and safety issues around teens driving to school.

Several people mentioned fond memories of Friday night football games, band-day parades and other community activities that happen when there’s a high school in town.

Veterinarian and owner of Tabby Road Clinic, Chad Zadina, echoed Michel’s feelings and recalled his youth spent in towns much smaller than Wellington that had their own high school. “Now we’re asking, but pretty soon we’re going to be demanding a high school,” Zadina said.

“The town may need to do something more than normal to get this school,” Mayhugh said. “Is the board willing to do some creative thinking to help us get a school?”

He wondered if it would be possible to build a charter school and he said there was interest in town in a school that would cater more to vocational trades than a traditional high school does.

“There’s nothing I’d like to see more than a high school in Wellington,” said Reed, a graduate of Wellington schools and Poudre High School. “Your input will make a difference. I need to reflect your issues. The school board has an obligation to you. However, in the end, the decision is up to a vote of the people.”

Hall said that over the years he’d spoken with several different people in Wellington about the school issue. He indicated the need for one representative to express the desires of the community. Singewald agreed. Mayhugh suggested that they form an ad hoc committee to work with the school board on an on-going basis.

Timnath is a fast-growing area that may soon seek a high school. “There’s a big buck developer planning to build 1,000 homes in Timnath. It’s pretty obvious that a new high school will be built there given the numbers,” Mayhugh said.

Michel and Zadina agreed that Wellington citizens are likely to feel that their tax dollars don’t count because their homes are in the $200, 000 range, much less expensive than the average newer home in Timnath.

Superintendent Smyser has scheduled a visit to Wellington on November 4. No doubt she will find that there will be plenty to talk about.

4 Comments

  1. Sorry, but Wellington is still considered by many to be just a hick, farming community. They might build a high in north Ft. Collins but never Wellington. Just look how long it took and how crowded Eyestone had to get BEFORE Rice was built!

  2. When are we going to start seeing some positive progression indicative of a growing community? Where are the new restaurants and specialty shops? Where are the commercial and retail options? When is the park and trail system to break ground? Why can’t we persuade the landowner of the commercial property on the south side of town to offer his lots at an affordable price or are they? We are all for a new high school as well. As mentioned by Zadina this would provide for community pride and give an incentive to young families for move here. And he also correctly points out that smaller communities have High Schools, why don’t we? PSD needs to understand that our tax dollars count too and I would think that they’ve obviously noticed our growth? I also realize that commercial growth takes time and involves many different factors but I’ve been a homeowner in Wellington for over three years and haven’t seen anything happen other than a new house being built every week and new businesses closing down (save for Family Dollar and Ace selling to Bomgaars). Let’s go town leaders…if you need the pep talk!

    • Jim, my wife and I moved here almost 20 years longer than you did. We came when the population was just a hair over 1K, had one gas station, one country grocery store, a few bars, and a few churches. PLENTY has been developed over those years. Unlike some, most want to have controlled growth. That controlled growth is what helped to sustain this town during the 2008 recession with minimal impact. BTW, did you miss that BIG building on the north end of 6th street with the name CAMERRON on the top? Have you been involved to know discussions are underway for a NAPA store? There is plenty going on, you just need to get yourself informed to realize it.

  3. There is no incentive to develop Wellington any further than it has come. Housing is increasing due to the cost of living in Fort Collins. There appears to be a desire to maintain a rural atmosphere in Wellington. In many respects there is something to be said for the tranquility of life here. Poudre High School is an excellent facility offering options to a cross section of student population. In addition, they have an excellent IB program for those who wish to have greater educational enrichment, are college bound and want to shave a year off their college time. I think monies would be better spent in building a facility where the kids can go to partake in sports, physical activities, etc that are not connected to any religious institutions. The reality is there is not that much of a desire to see things change in Wellington. Perhaps in time, if Wellington grows in population to a substantial number, the picture will change. This area is primarily rural/agricultural and was and will always be that.

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